Unhaggle | Road Obstacles 101: How to Survive a Collision With an Unknown Object

Written and researched by Elliot Chan for Unhaggle.com | May 06, 2014 |

Worst-case scenario: you are driving your new Escalade when suddenly you feel a bump and then an unsettling scrape against some unseen part of the car. What do you do after? Do you drive off and hope for the best? Or should you pull over and assess the damages to the unfortunate obstruction and your car?

In a world full of construction sites and jaywalking animals, things that could have been avoided sometimes just aren’t. Regardless of what you might crash into, dealing with the result will test your character and aptitude as a driver. We don’t plan for accidents, but we can definitely be prepared for them.


Hitting a pothole can be a horrifying endevour. You see it coming up ahead, but there just isn’t enough time to react, so you drive directly into the crater. Your car jolts, while the tires, suspension, rims and everything else all suddenly feel compromised. You drive on, but you know that there is some damage. What now?

While road maintenance is the city’s duty, getting compensation will require you to make an insurance claim, which we have covered in this piece. If you have hit a damaging pothole, be sure to report it so that the road can be repaired as quickly as possible.

Anticipating potholes requires the driver to do a few key things while driving. Be aware of the weather conditions: cold weather often damages the road and rain can form puddles that hide the resulting potholes. Leave some distance between yourself and the car in front, which will allow you some room to see the road ahead. Don’t speed or break too quickly when driving across a pothole. Doing so will increase the damage to your vehicle. So, take your foot off the brakes since it’s the best you can do if a pothole is unavoidable.

Pylons and Traffic Cones

Remember those driving tests with pylons and traffic cones scattered all over the road for us to avoid? Well, nothing has really changed—hitting a pylon is never a good thing. It can cause a minor damage to your vehicle or it can cause major accidents.

Hitting a traffic cone may make it to fly away comically or cause it to get caught under your car or in-between the wheels. Dragging a cone, even for a block, can cause severe damage to your vehicle. So, if you feel the plastic orange cone underneath, pull over and remove it immediately. The top part of the cone may seem fragile, but it is often the heavy black base that causes the damage.

Yes, we all have the temptation to drive through a line of pylons, but hitting them is considered vandalism and you may be charged if your motives are seen as negligence.

Large Wildlife

As we plan for our summer road trips, we must also remember that some highways cut across homes of many large animals, including caribous, moose, deer and even bears. Signs are often posted in areas where wildlife populations are high, but are there more precautions we can take?

We remember the term “deer in headlights”, which refers to the paralyzing fear animals feel when they see our vehicles’ blinding headlights. Odds are – they aren’t going to leap out of the way. If you know you cannot avoid the animal, do not try to maneuver around it—instead, try to brace for impact. Swerving may cause you to flip your car, drive off the road or into oncoming traffic, all of which can lead you to a more compromising scenario.

After you have hit the animal and checked that you are okay, do not approach it since it may still be alive. In a moment of panic, the animal can attack, kick or gore. Remain in your vehicle and report the incident to 911 right away.


Hitting a pedestrian is every driver’s nightmare. Not only can you be legally liable to the fault, but you can also kill someone. Driving safe in urban, congested areas—like downtown cores and parking lots—are the best measure. Drive passively and defensively; assume that anybody on the sidewalk can jump out in front of you at any time.

But what happens if you do hit someone?

Stop! Hit-and-runs are a severe crime with punishment ranging anywhere from a fine to imprisonment. If you hit someone you must pull over, call for emergency responders and cooperate with law enforcers. Take pictures, exchange information and stay on the scene. From there do not hide evidence or speak unruly or discuss the accident. Contacting an attorney will be a good option at this point to help you through the legal process. For more info, consult this article.


Remember that pets are someone’s family members. It might be easy to simply drive away after the incident, but it is far from the right thing to do. If you drive away and get caught, you may be charged for cruelty to animals and be taken to court.

If the pet, like a dog for instance, is still alive, then approach it carefully. Injured animals are unpredictable and may attack. Help remove it off the road by muzzling it with a blanket. Then contact the dog owner (information should be available on the pet’s collar) and the police. Bring the animal to the veterinarian as soon as possible. The owner will be responsible for paying the medical bill. If the owner cannot be located, the one who brings in the pet will be responsible.

As for the vehicle, a comprehensive insurance claim will cover the damage by going after the pet owner, who is responsible for their pet in the first place. If the driver does not have comprehensive insurance, he or she can go to the pet owner and file a claim for repair.

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